2017-01-04 / Editorial

Obama’s U.N. vote unfairly puts the blame on Israel

President Barack Obama’s decision to abstain instead of veto the United Nations resolution condemning Israeli settlements was the wrong approach to advancing talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Regardless of how one views the settlements, the U.N. should not be given moral nor legal power to influence this complicated conflict given its history of fervent anti- Israel bias.

The administration’s dangerous stance reverses decades of bi-partisan agreement to veto U.N. resolutions that have unreasonably labeled the Jewish settlements as the main obstacle impeding negotiations. In breaking with such practices, the U.S. action will not spur peace talks as one imagines was the Obama administration’s intentions but will likely damage any chances of the Israelis and Palestinians coming to the table in good faith. Moreover, it will embolden Palestinians to pursue more international sanctions against Israel instead of sitting down for good-faith negotiations.

The measure declares that Israeli settlements built on land occupied since the 1967 war have “no legal validity.” By abstaining from the vote, the Obama administration did not explicitly support such a position. However, allowing the measure to pass effectively brands Israel’s Jews who live in East Jerusalem and the West Bank as outlaws, strengthening the argument of Israel’s enemies bent on carrying out sanctions and boycotts against Israel.

It is disappointing, to say the least, that Obama, in his waning days in office, has thrown this wrench into the process. It’s hard to say how this will play out with the transition to President- Elect Donald Trump, who has stated his intention to name a staunch advocate of the settlement movement as his ambassador to Israel.

We hope that the American role moving forward will aid both sides in achieving peace. 

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